“I’m over 40. Is keto right for me?”
A lot of us have been asking this question ever since the start of the keto diet craze.
When you’re in your 20’s and 30’s you might not worry about trying something like the ketogenic diet. But as we get older we want to make sure a new diet isn’t going to end up harming our health.
Plus, we’ve been raised by the traditional food pyramid. The one that told us we need to eat lots of grains and other carbohydrates and very little fat.
There’s no question that many people have had success with a keto diet at age 40 and beyond. But we don’t always hear about the failures, the plateaus, or the health problems.
For all its hype and promise, there are some things you need to be aware of if you’re starting a keto diet at age 40 or older.
I’ve done a lot of reading about keto over 40 (even though surprisingly little has been written about the topic!) . If you want an honest analysis of whether a keto diet makes sense for you, keep reading.
Weight Loss After 40
Let’s start with some basic facts. Speaking in general, people in their 40s and 50s tend to carry extra body fat.
You probably know this just from looking around. It has also been documented by peer-reviewed research.
The reason this happens is complicated. In fact there are a lot of reasons why this happens.
In short, some of it has to do with lifestyle changes. We become more sedentary. We don’t eat as well.
Some of it has to do with our bodies. Our metabolism begins to slow down. We aren’t growing and we don’t have as much muscle mass to burn up the extra calories.
This is true for both men and women.
But women in their 40’s face an extra challenge: major hormonal changes.
That’s not to say that men don’t deal with changing hormones, too. (Ever heard of “manopause“?)
I’ll get to men in a little bit. First, let’s look at how a keto diet may affect women in their 40’s.
Keto After 40 For Women
Women in their 40’s face some unique challenges. As we approach menopause we might experience weight gain, poor sleep, hot flashes, mood changes, and thickening in the abdominal region.
It’s tempting to want to turn to a keto diet to counteract the weight gain and achieve a great body. We also hear about keto helping with sleep changes and even mood swings, so it seems like a perfect solution.
So is keto good for perimenopause?
Some studies have proposed that women’s weight gain in midlife is more a factor of aging — which impacts both sexes — than of menopausal changes in hormones. Other studies note, however, that declining estrogen (estradiol or E2) at menopause changes women’s energy needs and metabolism, changes their location of body-fat accumulation from the hips to abdomen, and is associated with an increased rate of metabolic syndrome.
And keto diets don’t always solve the problem. A lot of women over 40 find that a generic keto diet doesn’t help them achieve the health goals they are aiming for.
You really need to customize the diet based on your own tastes, needs, and goals.
In the article Anne goes on to list 10 tips that can help make sure a keto diet is effective for women over 40. I will highlight and summarize them below:
- Don’t eat too much protein
- Don’t eat too much fat
- Use intermittent fasting
- Avoid letting carbs “creep” back into your diet
- No alcohol
- No sweeteners
- Train with weights
- Get enough sleep
- Reduce stress
- Be realistic
I highly recommend reading the entire article. It is long but it’s full of great information.
The tips themselves are probably enough to help make sure keto works for you. And several of them go completely against what some people will tell you. For example, how many keto recipes are packed with fat and protein? Practically all of them!
You’ll also want to pay careful attention to sweeteners. They are popular in keto diets, which is understandable because even keto dieters have a sweet tooth. But sweeteners are not very good for you, and you’ll do well to avoid them completely.
In truth, these are good recommendations for anyone. Not just women.
Men also tend to have a difficult time managing weight after age 40. Even if they don’t experience those pesky menopause symptoms!
Keto Diets For Men Over 40
Males in their 40’s and 50’s don’t face the same hormonal changes as females. Yet many men in this age range still need a different approach to dieting. What worked in their teens and 20’s probably won’t get the job done at this age!
So what is the best diet after 40 for men? There is no single answer to that. But if I were to make a list of the top diets, keto would be toward the very top. I’ll explain.
Men, too, face a slowing metabolism as they reach middle age. A lot of men just accept that they “can’t” have a fit body and let themselves go, resulting in declining health and dad bod.
It turns out that keto diets are among the best ways for men to lose weight and have a healthy strong body in their 40’s.
I found an interesting read in Men’s Journal. The article introduces us to Timothy Noakes, MD, a professor at University of Cape Town. Dr. Noakes swears by the types of low-carb, ketogenic diets that have exploded in popularity.
Dr. Noakes is an avid endurance runner in peak shape. But he was actually diagnosed with type-2 diabetes just a few short years ago in 2010. He spent the last few years learning as much as he could about nutrition, and has now become a major proponent of a low-carb, high-fat and high-protein diet.
By the way, Dr. Noakes is in his late 60’s.
From the article:
For non-athletes and anyone trying to lose weight or keep it off, Noakes’ advice is that eating a high-fat diet, with few if any refined carbs and as little sugar as possible, will switch on the same fat-burning system and keep your body lean and your weight stable without making you hungry. According to Noakes and a growing number of nutritionists, physiologists, and biohackers, when you’re in a state of ketosis—best attained through a strict “ketogenic diet”—good things happen.
Ketogenic diets have led to miraculous health turnarounds for a lot of people. At this point it is clear that keto is not a fad. It’s here to stay.
And a ketogenic diet is absolutely a smart way to go for men over 40.
A word of caution…
Don’t get fooled into thinking that your weight will be effortless when you start a keto diet. It won’t be.
Anything worth having takes a lot of focus and determination and this is no different.
Yes, the pounds could very well fly off in your first few months, but it will take some effort and getting used to.
In order to make the process easier I highly recommend a customized diet plan. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to get a personalized keto diet plan based on your body type and preferences. In fact, you can start for free.
Is The Keto Diet Healthy After 40?
The short answer is: probably. But there haven’t been enough large-scale studies to make definitely conclusions about how healthy ketogenic diets are.
There’s plenty of exciting possibilities about the power of a keto diet, but health experts aren’t quite ready to acknowledge all the supposed benefits.
Dr. Marcelo Campos discusses this in the Harvard Health Blog. For example, he notes that there is solid evidence that keto diets help reduce seizures in children. Because of that, we can speculate that there are “possible benefits for other brain disorders such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, sleep disorders, autism, and even brain cancer.” But we don’t have studies to support keto as a treatment for these conditions.
Later in the blog post Dr. Campos says this about the benefits of a ketogenic diet:
A ketogenic diet could be an interesting alternative to treat certain conditions, and may accelerate weight loss. But it is hard to follow and it can be heavy on red meat and other fatty, processed, and salty foods that are notoriously unhealthy. We also do not know much about its long-term effects, probably because it’s so hard to stick with that people can’t eat this way for a long time.
So ketogenic diets might not only speed up weight loss… they could also treat other conditions. Some of these conditions are prevalent in older people (e.g. Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s). But we don’t know that for sure.
We also don’t know for sure what the long-term effects of ketogenic diets might be. Before long we should know more about this since as more and more people give it a try.
Based on everything I’ve read and observed, keto diets seem safe for people over 40, even over long periods of time. It will be interesting to see what experts say about this as the years go by.
A keto diet is a perfectly good diet for men and women who are older than 40. We gave some extra recommendations to pay attention to, but overall you should be able to reap the many benefits of keto no matter what your age is. As always, if you have specific health concerns you should check with your doctor first.